Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #165~ Betty White on Staying Positive

betty-white

Blog #165~ Betty White on Staying Positive

Betty White turned 95 last week, and beams with happiness and positivity!  She was interviewed by Katie Couric, who asked this American treasure, about the state of our country, and how divided it is.

Here is what Betty had to say……

“It’s not in the best place we’ve ever been, but I think that’s the time, to buckle down and really work positively as much as you can. Instead of saying, Oh this is terrible, oh he’s terrible, just think alright, there is nothing I can do about that right now. But I can do the best in my little circle.  So if I do that, maybe you’ll do your best, and we’ll get through.”

Katie Couric went on to state how hard it is for some people to be positive, with so much negativity with the barrage of politics and social media creating a toxic environment.  Betty, acknowledged this, and offered these thoughts…….  

So many people think negatively saying, you know what I hate, oh I hate this.  Instead of alright, I’ll get through this.  Then you start lifting up a bit.”

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“If you start with, you know what I hate, you’re going to go right down the tubes” 

Betty White is a positive thinker, in her words a “cockeyed optimist” and attributes that to staying happy all 95 years of her life.  I thought about this interview, when the sun came out after countless foggy, gray days here in Chicago.  I took a power walk soaking in the sunny, blue skies and mild 55 degree day.  I could feel the sunshine lifting my spirits.  Not everyday starts with sunshine, especially in January.  But my day ALWAYS start with a smile, (and usually a fart and giggle), from my son, Nick.  He is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.

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It’s a great way to start each day.🙂  Nick’s smile is contagious, his attitude uplifting.  Anyone in Nick’s inner circle has witnessed his joy.  A treat at Culver’s brings on such happiness to big guy.  Nick does well finding pleasure in the simple things, being silly, and making people laugh. Yes, he has his moments of getting frustrated and upset like the rest of us.  But he shakes it off, never holding a grudge or negativity.

Betty White and my son, Nick, have the right idea by entering each day with a positive attitude.  It will not only elevate your mood, but those around you.

It’s no wonder why Betty White looks and feels these way she does at age 95, with her words of wisdom…….. *Buckle down  *Think positive  *Do the best in your little circle *You got to get through this, one foot in front of the other.  

Let the sunshine come out in your heart and beam onto others. Your positive spirit will ripple out of your own circle and expand to those around you. That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Nick’s World Update

 Nick’s World Update

Have you settled into 2017 yet, after the busy holiday season?  I’m so happy to be back to share Nick’s world with you!  Nick is 22 years old, and has Down syndrome and autism.  Here are some of the highlights of Big Guy’s holiday fun.

We spent the holidays at home, here in Chicago. Nick enjoyed seeing family.  He’s always happy to see his brother, Hank and share elbow bumps!

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Kibbie had a very “Meowy Christmas” 🙂

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Nick was excited to get a new iPad mini.  The new Big Grip case for the iPad mini is called the Big Grip Tweener.  It is much slimmer, more age appropriate in design, and best of all still protects as well as the original Big Grip case.

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Nick relishes a nice reflective bag almost as much, as his new iPad mini 🙂

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Over the holidays, we entertained family and friends.  Nick is use to a certain schedule in the evenings.  It can be tricky to get him to stretch out the time, once the sun goes down. He was very patient and social during happy hour, and a leisurely dinner.  Inevitably, once the meal is over, he wastes no time.  He springs up, grabs his Little Debbie snack cakes and evening meds, then sets them on the kitchen island.  After dessert, he will beeline upstairs, strips off his clothes and is ready for a shower.

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At the family gathering,  we tried stalling him while the desserts were being passed and the coffee was brewing.  I made the mistake of setting the Swiss Cake Rolls and meds off to the side for just a few more minutes.  Nick would have no part of this, and let it be known.  He took his iPad mini and did a huge karate chop right into the……

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Nick was done!  We deflected the incident with an “uh-oh” comment and swiftly got his snack cakes back, to avoid a meltdown.  Sometimes, you have to compromise on your holiday schedule, and respect your child’s need to keep a consistent routine.

After the holidays, Al and I went on his company’s year in trip incentive to Costa Rica.  Nick was in very good hands with his respite care giver, Jodi. There was a good amount of logistics to do when leaving your child with a caregiver.  We put together temporary custody, child care and medical authorization agreements along with a detailed schedule.  In addition,  I prepared a social story so that he could see the change in routine and his schedule.  Here it is in part, below.  Social stories help to give the blueprint for understanding schedules and what each day will bring.  For more on using visual schedules, check out my last post, Blog #164~Why Use a Visual Schedule?

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Nick had so much fun with Jodi going out to eat and hanging out at home. His other respite care giver, Miss R. also took him out over the weekend. We are blessed to have such caring, capable, and patient women to take such great care of Nick.

Want more pictures and videos of Nick?  Check out our social media sites. Follow Nick: Facebook @Down syndrome With a Slice of Autism, Instagram  #nickdsautism, Twitter @ #tjunnerstall

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All in all, the holidays and extended vacation afterwards went smoothly,  with only a dented pumpkin pie, and a few more attention seeking behaviors.  Most of these included higher incidences of dropping/ throwing things, turning water faucets on, and peeing on the floor next to the toilet.  Those behaviors are to be expected with busy holiday meal and house preparations,  a house full of company, and changes in routine.

Oh, one more thing, Nick managed to pull another fire alarm on  Friday the 13th. That is, the ultimate attention seeking behavior!  Tally count is now at 43 pulls since third grade. Hey, it’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up.

Here’s to getting back to a regular routine and settling into 2017.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Cyber Monday Update

cyber-monday

Cyber Monday Update

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  Nick was very excited to see his brother, Hank and his grandparents.  As I was setting the dining room table the night before, he went to his PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) book, and handed me this icon with his grandparents on it. Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.

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We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving dinner and plenty of leftover mashed potatoes for big guy!  Nick was happy to see his Thomas the Tank engine ornament, while decorating the Christmas tree.

nick-ornament

Nick tried to make off with his brother’s new vacuum cleaner for himself.  He must have thought Christmas came early for him, instead of Hank. He managed to drag the box all the way into the living room.   He loves to vacuum and does a nice job at it.  This has been one of his community jobs for several years since high school.

nick-hanks-vacuum

It was a nice visit with family.  The leftovers are finished, the Christmas trees are up, now onto Cyber Monday.  I might have to add another Shark vacuum to the cart.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Halloween Fun

Halloween Fun

This week, I’m sharing some of the fun costumes my son, Nick has worn over the years for Halloween.  Nick is 22, and has Down syndrome and autism.  It’s not always easy for a person with special needs to tolerate costumes, much less masks, face paint, or makeup. The sensory issues can get in the way of going, “all out” for Halloween.  Here is some that I’ve come up with over the year for him:

Referee Nick

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I put a spell on you!

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Spongebob Squarepants

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M&M Nick with his brother Hank

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What a cute slice of pizza he is….

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Army man Nick, and his brother Hank

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Toot Toot, this one was made for Nick!

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Pump, pump it up Nick!

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Yee Haw! My cute, little cowboys….

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Yo, what up Nick?

Nick gangsta

It’s possible to find, (or come up with), your own costumes for a child with special needs. We’ve had a lot of fun doing this over the years.  Nick and I wish you a safe, and Happy Halloween.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #151~OBX Vacation

Blog #151~OBX Vacation

What is OBX?  It’s an acronym for the Outer Banks.  OBX is a 130-mile stretch of barrier islands just off the coast of North Carolina. Along this coastline you will find quaint towns, sleepy fishing villages, lighthouses and a beautiful coastline lined with dunes covered in sea oats.

Sea Oats

OBX lighthouses

It’s the place to go and unwind, let go of worries, and relax.  The biggest decisions for me would be which swimsuit to put on along with what book and cold beverage to have in my hand.

OBX signs

For the past six years, our destination has been Duck, NC.  My son Nick, is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  He absolutely loves to come here.  Vacations and travelling can be tough on our kids with special needs.  Having a regular vacation spot gives Nick predictability. This in turn makes him feel secure, thus keeping his anxiety level down.  New environments and being out of a routine can be tough for a person with special needs; especially autism.  Anxiety can lead to serious meltdowns.  We are fortunate to be able to return here to Nick’s Uncle and Aunt’s beach house. A place where Nick feels at home.

Nick and Uncle Ron at the crows nest…..

Nick and Ron OBX

Nick is comfortable in their house and helps out by vacuuming and unloading the dishwasher.  He loves swimming in the pool and soaking in the hot tub.

Nick with his “stim” of choice, the tappers.  My beverage of choice; a Lime-A-Rita 🙂

Nick pool obx

Sensory issues related to autism can be another challenge on vacations.  Nick struggles with the texture and unevenness of sand as well as extreme heat.  It can be hit or miss getting him to even walk out to the beach.  The weather conditions were just right this year, with mild 80 degree temps and a nice breeze to cut the heat.  He did well hanging with us all on the beach a few times.  He even dipped his toes in the surf; success!

Nick Beach OBX

The dynamic was different this year.  We missed some family members including Nick’s grandparents, his brother and cousin.  Health issues, a new job out of college and a summer internship kept them from coming.  We missed having everyone together, along with the laughs and good times we’ve shared over the years here.

Nick and his brother Hank, OBX 2011

Nick and his brother, Hank at the Outer Banks, NC

OBX 2011

OBX Family 2011

OBX is where we let the stress fade as the waves washed away worries.  We each find our ways to unplug; whether it’s fishing, biking, tennis, manicures, massages, swimming, sunbathing and cracking open a good summer read.

My book of choice, following the extraordinary journey of retired Secret Service Agent, Clint Hill with five Presidents.  I highly recommend reading Five Presidents (#1 New York Times Best Selling Authors, Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin)….

Five Presidents

The book is finished on OBX vacation, 2016.  Nick enjoyed his time there and still seems very happy.  We will take back some great memories, new tan lines and a good feeling of being restored.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick, Uncategorized

Blog #149~Vacation/Staycation

Blog #149~Vacation/Staycation

How’s your summer going?  Nick had a blast on vacation in Texas, and a staycation here with his cousins. My son Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism. We flew down to Texas late June, for a family reunion in the Hill Country.  I managed to knock a few things off my Texas bucket list including Tex-Mex food, tubing, swimming and authentic BBQ.

Nick enjoying the pool with his cousins, Jake and Jenna….

Nick Hill Country pool

A plate of Texas heaven….

BBQ

It was great to see extended family, share laughs, stories, meals, elbow bumps, and get those awesome Overbey family hugs!  Thanks Laura and Scott for hosting a wonderful event.

Texas sunset

We enjoyed a nice 4th of July, and Nick certainly got into the patriotic spirit. I don’t know where he comes up with these things……

Nick flags

Following the 4th of July, my niece and nephew came up for a week.  We had a lot of fun taking them out and spoiling them. They knocked a few things off their Chicago bucket list:

* Chicago White Sox game

*Taste of Chicago

*Millennium Park “The Bean”

bean

* Giordano’s deep dish pizza

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*Portillo’s Italian Beef

*Blain’s Farm and Fleet (not sure that was on the list, but a good laugh between me and Jenna)

Thank you to our respite workers, (Jodi, Kelsey and Lara) for taking Nick out during our staycation. It was fun enjoying Chicago with the kids, and just hanging out (and being the cool aunt).

Elbow Bumps….

Nick and Jenna

So, that’s our summer thus far.  On another note, I’m excited to share a great opportunity with you.  Recently I was approached to be in a partnership with A&E’s hit show, Born This Way!  This series features young adults who have Down syndrome showing everyone the possibilities.  I got an exclusive interview you won’t want to miss. Look for the blog post later this week.  Check the social media sites below  for more information, including a look at the trailer.  Let’s get the word out, and share this on your social media as well.

A&E’s Born This Way premieres next Tuesday, July 26th at 10/9c!

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What a great summer, it’s been.  See you in a few days with my exclusive Born This Way interview! That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #146~The Many Faces of Nick

Blog #146~The Many Faces of Nick

I was cleaning out the camera roll on my iPhone the other day.  There are so many funny pictures of Nick.  My son is 22 years old, he has Down syndrome and autism.  This week, a light hearted piece, featuring the many faces of Nick.

I could never get Nick to wear hat and gloves on any frigid, winter day here in Chicago.  He’ll leave the house with them on.  But, flings them off before the yellow bus pulled away from the curb.  Yet, he willingly wears hats and gloves (on his own terms) around the house…….

“Elmer Fud Nick”

Nick Elmer Fud

“Snow Bunny Nick”

nick snow bunny

“Gloved Nick”

Nick gloved

“Hoodie Nick”

nick hoodie

Then, there are the random things he gets a hold of……

“Suction Cup Nick”

Nick suction cup

“Wrestling Team Nick”

Nick Wrestling

“Googly Eyes Nick”

Nick Googly eyes

“Salad Ninja Nick”

Nick salad ninja

“Silly Nose Nick”

Nick Silly Nose

“Seatbelt Nick”

Nick seatbelt

“Fashionista Nick”

Nick fashionista

“Collegiate Nick”

Nick College

Here’s a couple using the CamWow and Snap Chat Apps…….

“Infared Nick”

Nick infared

“Twin Nicks” (Can you imagine that?)

nick twin

 

“Pantomime Nick”

nick pantomine

“Rainbow Burst Nick”

nick rainbow

Hey Nick, The Village People called.  They want their costume back…

nick police

I hope you enjoyed the many faces of Nick.  He’s quite a character.  I love this guy and his sense of humor.  Many thanks to his respite caregivers, Jodi and Kelsey for capturing several of these moments.  Have a great week, and take some time do something silly like Nick.  That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Fun Side of Nick

Mother’s Day Break

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day Break

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day.  This week, I am giving myself a break on posting a blog.  My son Nick, has Down syndrome and autism and is 22 years old.  He is doing great in his adult day program.  Well, except for one thing. Yes, the spell has been broken.  But, he did manage to make it 3 full months without pulling a fire alarm.

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Current fire alarm pull count=35 pulls since third grade

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It’s Nick’s world, the rest of us are just trying to keep up!  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Education and Special Needs, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #136~Nick Turns 22

Blog #136~Nick Turns 22

I got a bit choked up buying these candles the other day.  What is the significance of 22?  That is the birthday in which a child with special needs ages out of the school system and enters the adult world.  My son Nick, has Down syndrome and autism.  Yesterday was his 22nd birthday.

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Last Friday was Nick’s last day in school.  They celebrated his birthday and wished him good luck….

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Make a wish Big Guy! 🙂

22 wish

Nick had a wonderful experience in his Post-Secondary Transition Program (STEPS).  It was hard to say goodbye.  The cord has been cut, and the little yellow bus made it’s final stop to the door……..

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Nick’s birthday celebration continued over the weekend with family at Mr. Benny’s Restaurant in Frankfort. Nick enjoyed a nice steak dinner and another round of singing Happy Birthday.  We celebrated both Nick and his Dad’s (which is the day before his).

22 Nick and Dad

Yesterday (Nick’s actual birthday), we made a run to the border.  Oh happy day! 🙂

22 nick taco bell

Nick had a great time and we thank you all for the well wishes. We look forward to sharing the new adventures that lie ahead.  Nick started his new adult day program full time today. The fire alarm pull count is at 34 since third grade, but for how long?  Cheers to you Nick, for making us smile and keeping our reflexes razor sharp.   That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂

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Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Thanks for reading and sharing Nick’s world.  A new blog coming in two weeks!  In the meantime be sure to check out our Facebook page (Down syndrome with a Slice of Autism) for daily pictures, articles and other musings.  And there are plenty of blogs to read in the archives. 🙂

Cheers,

Teresa